Ev­ery­thing you need to know about the US elec­tion in Myan­mar

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - n.baker@mm­times.com NICK BAKER

THIS is it. Amer­i­cans will head to the polls tonight (Myan­mar time) af­ter one of the most di­vi­sive pres­i­den­tial cam­paigns since the whole thing kicked off in 1766. Usual pol­i­tick­ing around finely-tuned talk­ing points that ap­peal to the swing­ing cen­tre has be­come a faint mem­ory of elec­tions past, thanks mainly to a news cy­cle driven by the ram­pag­ing Don­ald Trump. It was only four short years ago when the as­pi­ra­tions of then-Re­pub­li­can nom­i­nee Mitt Rom­ney were tor­pe­doed af­ter he crit­i­cised 47 per­cent of the elec­torate as “be­liev­ing that they are vic­tims”. That now seems down­right gentle­manly when com­pared to the bom­bast of Trump: Mex­i­cans im­mi­grants were “rapists”, Mus­lims should be “banned” and one in­quis­i­tive fe­male re­porter had “blood com­ing out of her wher­ever”. This has not been lost on Amer­i­cans in Myan­mar. “It’s shock­ing to me that cru­elty can be such an ef­fec­tive cam­paign strat­egy,” said Yangon res­i­dent Ashton Strait who re­cently cast her bal­lot, sum­ming up the Trump phe­nom­e­non as “very sur­pris­ing and dis­ap­point­ing”. And yet – Demo­cratic nom­i­nee Hillary Clin­ton finds her­self in an elec­tion that has sig­nif­i­cantly tight­ened dur­ing the last stretch. A mat­ter of weeks ago, one met­ric on the polling ag­gre­gate web­site Five Thirty Eight pre­dicted the like­li­hood of a Clin­ton win at al­most 90 per­cent. It is now around 65pc. “In the fi­nal week of the cam­paign, the race ap­pears to be nar­row­ing,” said Laura Grace from Democrats Abroad in Yangon. Grace blamed this “in part due to the un­prece­dented and vague an­nounce­ment by FBI di­rec­tor James Comey about the pos­si­ble dis­cov­ery of emails re­lated to Clin­ton’s use of a pri­vate email server dur­ing her ten­ure as sec­re­tary of state”. The FBI has since said there is no ev­i­dence in these emails which war­rant new ac­tion against Clin­ton. Still, Grace said there had been a shift “not nec­es­sar­ily be­cause peo­ple are switch­ing from Clin­ton sup­port to Trump sup­port … [but] more likely com­ing from un­de­cided vot­ers who now in­di­cate they may vote for Trump”. Still, it’s far from a toss-up, with Clin­ton en­joy­ing a lead in the most im­por­tant swing states and early vot­ing num­bers ap­pear­ing to favour her. For those watch­ing es­pe­cially closely – the tip­ping point states will likely be Florida, Penn­syl­va­nia and North Carolina. With these three, so goes the coun­try. Yankophiles will be able to watch the count – then toast the suc­cess of their pre­ferred can­di­date or drown their sor­rows – as 50th Street Bar is hold­ing an elec­tion watch party start­ing to­mor­row at 7:30am. “Typ­i­cally, the re­sults of the elec­tion are called once polls close on the West Coast around noon or early af­ter­noon our time. How­ever, a close race in some swing states, es­pe­cially Florida, could de­lay things a bit. [We’ll] be there as long as it takes,” Grace said. And once Pres­i­dent Clin­ton or Pres­i­dent Trump has the race won? “As nice as it would be to sit back af­ter the elec­tion, there is still a lot of work to be done. Sig­nif­i­cant heal­ing and com­pro­mise is re­quired to move for­ward as a coun­try,” Grace said. This may be dif­fi­cult. Trump has fre­quently called the elec­tion “rigged” and con­se­quently an ABC News poll found that 84pc of his sup­port­ers are wor­ried about a fraud­u­lent out­come. The con­stant talk of a stolen elec­tion has elicited ex­treme re­sponses from Trump sup­port­ers. “If Trump loses, I’m grab­bing my mus­ket,” one former Re­pub­li­can Con­gress­man Tweeted – a wor­ry­ing sen­ti­ment that’s been echoed in darker cor­ners of so­cial me­dia. Who­ever wins, the com­ing days could be some of the more chal­leng­ing in re­cent US his­tory.

The US-Elec­tion Watch Party will be held to­mor­row (Wed­nes­day) at 50th Street Bar, 9/13 50th Street, Bo­tataung town­ship start­ing at 7:30am.

‘As nice as it would be to sit back af­ter the elec­tion, there is still a lot of work to be done. Sig­nif­i­cant heal­ing and com­pro­mise is re­quired to move for­ward as a coun­try.’ Laura Grace Democrats Abroad

Pho­tos: AFP

Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Hillary Clin­ton (left) faces off against the Re­pub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump early to­mor­row morn­ing lo­cal time in what some con­sider to be the most ab­surdly par­ti­san US elec­tion ever. This could be the end of mod­ern Amer­i­can

democ­racy as we know it.

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